In her opening speech, Monique Stennis, the director of diversity initiatives, said, “Unity Day is the result of collective passion across campus and is here to emphasize that black students are woven into what it means to be a Bulldog.” This message was evident throughout the second annual Unity Day when the Bulldog community hosted about 300 local Black Student Union (BSU) high school and community college students from local Southern California campuses.
Admissions Counselor Brian Brim and Campus Visit Manager Brittny Cotton joined Admissions Bulldog Ambassadors, Redlands Black Student, Faculty, Staff, Administrators, and Alumni Association (BSFSAA), and the BSU to give local students a day of fun and a glimpse of life at U of R.
“This is the second year that we've held this event for prospective students of color and each year has been a success,” Brim said. I'm looking forward to doing this in the years to come to inform students of the African American/Black community at the U of R.”
Students learned about campus life and the college application process from admissions counselors, listened to panels from U of R BSU representatives, and engaged with academic departments and organizations during the Involvement Fair. The day ended with a step performance by members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, also known as the “Divine Nine,” a group of Black Greek-letter organizations promoting scholarship, services, and the power of community.
Nzuna Malata ’24, a business administration major and student employee for the admissions department, served as a tour guide for Unity Day and believes the event is a great way for high schoolers to envision themselves on a university campus. Reflecting on her experience as a transfer student, she said, “the BSU cabinet made me feel supported at Redlands when I first transferred and that the community at Redlands would have my back.”
On the first diversity panel, Kay Thomas ’20, the assistant director of enrollment for graduate enrollment, facilitated and included panelists: Stennis, Michelle Kanu, the assistant director of enrollment in graduate enrollment and the secretary for BSFSAA, Markel Wooten ’26, a student who is majoring in Health, Medicine, and Society, and Deborah Adu ’24, a chemistry major and member of Alpha Theta Phi Sorority and BSU.
When discussing their perspectives on what they value about the Redlands’ community, Thomas said, “The campus made it so easy to connect to people because there are so many opportunities here for everyone, regardless of your interest.” Adu echoed this same sentiment, “organizations on campus make you feel like you’re at home. They give you a sense of community and family when you are with them.”
The second diversity panel was facilitated by Kieshauna Choice ’13, ’23, the assistant director of enrollment, and included panelists: Maria Williams ‘18, assistant director for employer & alumni connections, Alieu Corr ’20, ’22, social media manager, Markel, and Bryan Whitehead ’25, the president of BSU and an English major.
Bryan emphasized the value of “the smaller class sizes and that Redlands is a very intertwined community, not just at the University scale, but the city scale as well.” Markel values being able to talk to his professors outside of class for any additional help and “get the one-on-one connection with them and everyone around campus.”
“It is important to us that prospective students come to campus and feel a sense of belonging” Cotton said. “Next year, if there are any students, faculty, or staff who would like to participate in Unity Day, please reach out to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. We’d love to have you!”
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